Trump’s 0.05% solution
As Election Day fast approaches with his support in free fall and Biden-Harris trending, President Trump is acting even insaner in the membrane as if he wants to lose.
It’s like in Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” where Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom launch a Broadway musical so outrageously heinous (“Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden”) that it’s sure to fail on opening night so they could keep the investors’ money.
At it happened, of course, “Springtime for Hitler” became a hit, as did the original Mel Brooks movie, the Broadway musical based on the movie, and the movie based on the Broadway musical.
“November for Trump” could play out the same way.
Considering his record, ratings and rantings, at this point, there’s no earthly way Trump could win by starting to act presidential and broaden his appeal, even if he even could. So he’s going the other direction, doubling down on his MAGA base, dancing even closer with the ones who brung him.
But not just his base, at best 25–30% of voters. With his increasingly despicable comments and actions, Trump appears to be targeting the basest of his base — a relative handful of diehards in key states who could squeeze him out another Electoral College win.
Remember that in 2016, while Trump lost the popular vote by 2.8 million, he won the electoral count by only about 77,000 votes — 44,000 in Pennsylvania, 22,000 in Wisconsin and 10,000 in Michigan, the Washington Examiner tallied.
That’s right — Trump is president because of 0.05% of 136 million votes cast.
That sliver might be all Trump needs for reelection, as New York Times opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie noted in an August 4 post headlined, “Trump Doesn’t Need the Most Votes. What if He Doesn’t Even Want Them?”
As Bouie explained:
Enough of the president’s base is concentrated in swing states like Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Because of that fact, he can lose by as many as five million votes and still win an Electoral College majority.
President Trump and his allies embraced this plainly anti-democratic feature of our political system to liberate themselves from majoritarian politics and coalition building.
This vote-picking gambit might be acceptable if Trump’s base was as enlightened as our Founders (at least the non-slaveholders), because essentially, they’re running the country through him.
But from everything he says and does to thrill them, even Trump doesn’t think very highly of “his people.” In fact, he assumes they’re … deplorable.
For starters, Trump clearly believes his base is either bigoted, blind to ongoing racial injustice or tolerant of it, offended by Black Lives Matter, more concerned about the protests than the provocation, or they don’t care at all. They’re also homophobic, misogynistic and xenophobic — believing nonwhite immigrants are ruining America — and altogether backwards and closed-minded.
That can’t be true, it’s insulting, and I’m shocked, shocked on their behalf.
I also refuse to believe, as Trump seems to, that his people love his sneering, jeering bullying, daily stream of gratuitous and gleeful insults, school-yard taunting and petty, thin-skinned vindictiveness. Or that they’re duped by his dizzying whirlwind of hollow promises, ridiculous claims of great achievement, and bald-faced lies and denials, how dare the fake news mainstream media hold him accountable.
Yet Trump counts on his base to swallow anything his Fox shills and other right-wing media Kool-Aid purveyors hype, especially about the “Democrat Socialist violent antifa liberal mobs” and how “Biden is a tool of the radical left.” You can tell from his rally-goers and their online posts that Trump fans are too intelligent to fall for that kind of manipulation.
So it’s offensive that Trump assumes my fellow Americans are useful idiots of Russian Putinbots and QAnon conspiracy whack jobs. And that they trust debunked internet “sources” like Alex Jones of Infowars who also hawks equally dubious supplements such as Alpha Power (“Boost your testosterone and vitality”). While they distrust actual health experts and refuse to mask against the Covid because personal liberty matters more than public health.
Experts that disagree with Trump are stupid and wrong. Trump is smart and never wrong. He can do no wrong. He’s counting on that kind of unquestioning loyalty, as if his people are blind sheep.
Sadly, at bottom, Trump doesn’t respect his people.
To him, they’re mean, snarky, bullheaded and brimming with anger, resentment and bile. They hate their fellow Americans who happen to vote Democratic. Rather than inspired by Lincoln’s better angels of our nature, they’re easily incited to attack their fellow citizens who disagree with them and their president.
It’s ironic that Trump is counting on his hardcore base to be reelected while treating them like P.T. Barnum’s proverbial suckers born every minute.
But what if Trump is right about his base? Do we really want his people running the country anymore? Haven’t they already done harm enough? Can America take another springtime for Trump?
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.